When 14-year-old Isaiah Belyea of Caribou started volunteering with Halfway Home Pet Rescue three years ago, he never imagined his love for animals would quickly turn into a budding career.
CARIBOU, Maine — When 14-year-old Isaiah Belyea of Caribou started volunteering with Halfway Home Pet Rescue three years ago, he never imagined his love for animals would quickly turn into a budding career.
But that’s exactly what happened to the dedicated volunteer.
“When I started I was doing pretty much the basics like cleaning kennels and litter boxes and feeding cats, but then things progressed the more I volunteered,” Belyea said.
Belyea, now a freshman at Caribou High School, is a regular volunteer for Halfway Home’s spaying and neutering, vaccination and surgery clinics for cats and dogs. He assists veterinarians with procedures and ensures that all animals receive the same comfort and affection that they would receive from their owners.
While volunteering at Halfway Home’s latest clinic on Thursday, Belyea said helping rescued animals recover from injuries was particularly rewarding.
“I love seeing the huge turnaround they’re going through,” Belyea said. “It’s satisfying to know that I helped them through this.”
As he progresses as a volunteer, Belyea hopes to use his skills and his love for animals to pursue an even more rewarding career.
From its first year, Belyea intends to pursue its certification as a veterinary assistant, which will allow it to rub shoulders with professionals in the field. He hopes to later study veterinary medicine and become a veterinarian.
Those who have worked alongside Belyea believe the young animal lover is well on his way to achieving his goals.
Portland-based veterinarian Beth Sperry is a longtime partner of Halfway Home, providing free spaying and neutering clinics in Aroostook. Belyea has become such a regular presence at these clinics that he now feels more like a colleague and friend than just a volunteer.
“His caring personality and passion for animals has been a huge asset to us,” Sperry said. “We all think he has great potential. [as a veterinarian] and will be delighted to see him continue his studies.
Norma Milton, president of Halfway Home, said Belyea has become one of the rescue’s most dedicated young volunteers.
“Watching Isaiah grow up has been fantastic for all of us,” Milton said. “He has grown from a shy youngster to a confident, compassionate and responsible young man.”
For Belyea, working with the animals at Halfway Home has meant more to him than just a guaranteed career. Belyea has learned to embrace his kindness and empathy in ways that help others while becoming more confident in himself.
“I feel like I’ve discovered myself more and found what I really love and appreciate,” Belyea said.